Enough is never enough for the “overexpectors,” who are quick to deliver a word of criticism when what they get doesn’t match up with what they were expecting. A critical spirit seems to be their greatest gift. Here are the three words that dominate the vocabulary of the overexpector:
“You should have done this! You ought to have done that! You must do this other thing!” Have you been on the receiving end of an overexpector? Have you been guilty of overexpecting from another? Regardless of where this message finds you, the key to unlocking the prison door of overexpectations is the Gospel. Only the power of the Gospel frees you from overexpecting from others or trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations of someone else.
If you have been reading these articles for any length of time, you know that I am in no way suggesting that we should drift through life without expectations—dreams, desires, and the necessary disciplines to fulfill them. This would lead to a life of mediocrity, and mediocrity is unacceptable for the child of the Most High God.
Jesus did not save you to live an average life! The Apostle Paul made this clear when he asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?”
“Yes, Paul,” the Corinthians would have dutifully assented, “we know that.”
And then Paul concluded, “So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Elsewhere Paul described how he was “straining forward to what lies ahead” and pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-15). Christian, you most certainly have not been called to a life of comfortable complacency!
Throughout years of coaching and training athletes, I frequently remind them that we have a tendency to surround ourselves with people who demand too little from us. Experience has taught me that the Christians who are growing the most are those who put themselves in the company of people who encourage them to reach, stretch, grow, and maximize their God-given potential.
The key, however, is whom—or, more accurately, Whom—we are doing it for and why. When the Gospel has seized us, we do what we do for the glory of our King. What motivates us to be our best is the love of Christ, which compels us to do all we can with all God has given us to do it with. We are no longer motivated by the expectations of others because the Gospel has freed us from living up to someone else’s standards.
If Perfection (Jesus) could not please everybody, imperfection (you and I) never will! Knowing that we already have everything we need because of our union with Christ—unconditionally loved; totally forgiven; fully accepted—we are freed from the oppression of overexpecting.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!